Violent Saturday: The Heist Movie As Soap Opera

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10/20/2010 10:31 AM |


Richard Fleischer’s Violent Saturday plays today and tonight at Film Forum‘s Heist Movie series, double-featured with 1961 programmer Cash on Demand.

Nasal spray-dosing growler Lee Marvin, one of a trio in town to hit the bank in one-patrol-car town Bisbee, Arizona, is about the extent of the violence in Richard Fleischer’s 1955 Violent Saturday, which takes place mostly on the Friday before. Fleischer shoots in autumnal color to match capture Bisbee’s jumbled red-brick streets and copper mines, where everyman foreman Victor Mature toils and dissipated heir Richard Egan drinks, and uses the ‘Scope frame to sustain single-take dialogue sequences like a blue-collar Otto Preminger—it’s a small-town soap opera, the town’s petty postwar dissatisfactions, lust, poverty, disappointment in family and marriage getting equal time with the heist preparations. The city slickers showing up to knock over a podunk bank is also the premise of Odds Against Tomorrow, which just played in the same series, another noir about the threats to an orderly, peaceful existence; here, the robbery shakes and resettles the emotional foundations the film takes the time to build up. With Ernest Borgnine as a pitchfork-wielding Amish farmer.